Taylor, Tom

AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:

3.5 out of 5

(8 books)

Star Wars: Adventures - Luke Skywalker And The Treasure Of The Dragonsnakes

(Art by Daxiong)

Set amid the events of 'The Empire Strikes Back', this book reveals some of Luke Skywalker's training under Master Yoda on Dagobah.

We've only ever seen abbreviated versions of Luke's training, so its interesting to see Taylor expand upon the young Jedi's experiences on the swamp planet.  There's also a nice little scene where, with Luke otherwise occupied, Yoda and R2-D2 have a moment together and (finally) acknowledge that they have actually had several adventures with one another in the past.

Sadly, there's just not enough to this book.  Luke's quest is short, boring and has a fairly predictable 'twist' ending.  And, aside from the scene mentioned above, that's basically just it.  The story never justifies the preposterously long title given to this book.

1 out of 5

 

Star Wars: Adventures - The Will Of Darth Vader

(Art by Brian Koschak and Dan Parsons)

Set 3 ABY, this book tells the story of Darth Vader's efforts to infiltrate and destroy a troublesome Rebel starfighter base.

This is a pretty shallow offering, negatively affected by pretensions of depth.  The writer seems to think that if he chucks in a few scathing remarks from a supporting character and has Vader mull them over, then it'll show new insight into the Dark Lord of the Sith.  It doesn't.  In fact, that supporting character is this book's worst element altogether.  His attempts at banter seem like Taylor was trying to turn this into some sort of buddy-cop story, which is not something I, or likely anyone else, wants from Darth Vader.

Overall, considering how much I'd enjoyed Taylor's other Star Wars work, I was very disappointed with this book.

1 out of 5

 

Star Wars: Blood Ties - Boba Fett Is Dead

(Art by Chris Scalf)

The sequel to 'Blood Ties: Jango and Boba Fett', set a year before 'A New Hope'.  The galactic newsfeeds are abuzz with the news that bounty hunter Boba Fett has been killed, but there is an implacable killer on the trail of Fett's assassins and Connor Freeman, son of a rogue Jango Fett clone, becomes caught in the middle.

All too often Boba Fett is used as a cameo character, appearing for little more reason than the fact that he looks cool and is highly marketable.  Here though we genuinely get some details of the lesser-explored aspects of Fett's life.  Connor is the perfect character to take this journey into Fett's past, having a blood tie to Boba but being a far more open personality, allowing for some exposition that we just wouldn't get from the bounty hunter himself.

Without spoiling anything it's hard to talk about this book's best scenes but suffice to say that the plot thread of the man hunting Fett's killers is every bit as satisfying as it needs to be.

This book is exactly what I want from a Star Wars graphic novel and if it has a downside it is simply that, set before Episode IV, you will know going into it that Boba Fett is most certainly not dead.

5 out of 5

 

Star Wars: Blood Ties - Jango And Boba Fett

(Art by Chris Scalf)

Set across two time periods twenty years apart, this book begins with Jango Fett being sent on a mission by Count Dooku, taking his fledgling warrior son with him.  Two decades later that son, Boba Fett, is hired to hunt down a man named Connor Freeman who is revealed to have a blood tie to the hunter himself.

Jango and Boba Fett are two of Star Wars' coolest characters and any chance to see them in action is worthwhile.  Most of this book is simply plenty of that, Fetts kicking ass, but where Taylor goes above and beyond is in developing the rarely-seen emotional side of these characters and exploring their unique codes of honour and duty.

The best element of this book, however, is Connor Freeman, an intensely likeable character with a wit and charm that never seems contrived.  Freeman's relationship with Fett turns out to be one of the most revealing and satisfying that I've seen in all of the stories involving the man in the Mandalorian armour.

Followed by 'Blood Ties: Boba Fett Is Dead'.

4 out of 5

 

Star Wars: Darth Maul - Death Sentence

(Art by Bruno Redondo)

Set in 20 BBY between the fourth and fifth seasons of the Clone Wars CGI TV series.  The Sith brothers Darth Maul and Savage Opress have been unleashed upon the galaxy but, not yet ready to face the Jedi, they have retreated into the shadows.  However, when a crimelord puts a bounty on their lives it is enough to draw the brothers out to seek revenge.

Where Sidious and Tyranus are all about intrigues, here we see a Sith duo who are both pure fury and that makes for a refreshing change.  So basically what we have on offer here is Maul and Savage given free reign to unleash that fury and the results are every bit as thrilling and action packed as you'd expect.

This book's biggest downside, however, is that it is of almost no consequence.  We don't learn anything about the main protagonists that we didn't know and, with the exception of the always-welcome Obi-Wan, the other characters are all nobodies, whose lives (and, predictably, deaths) have no consequence to the Star Wars mythos as a whole.  The only supporting character who was of any worth was Dray and that's mostly because this is some much-needed background to this mysterious character from the 'Invasion' books (set much later in the timeline).

3 out of 5

 

Star Wars: Invasion - Refugees

(Art by Colin Wilson)

Book one of three, set 25 ABY.  I was immensely pleased when this series of graphic novels set amid the early days of the Yuuzhan Vong War were released (interestingly, the idea of the Vong originally came from Dark Horse but was then pinched by Lucasarts to give to Del Rey for novels).

Here we're introduced to the Galfridians, the compassionate ruling family of the planet Artorias.  There's good King Caled, who was once a member of the Rebel Alliance, and his wife, Queen Nina.  Then there's Prince Finn and Princess Kaye, young and headstrong but with the same moral codes as their parents.  Their lives are soon rent asunder when the Yuuzhan Vong choose Artorias as one of their first strike points in their implacable invasion of the galaxy.

If you've not read the New Jedi Order novels don't despair, they're not necessary to enjoy this book as it tells the story of the war starting from the very beginning.  If you have read those novels then, like me, you'll find this story a brilliant tale that runs parallel to more familiar events.  There's even plenty of crossover as here we get to see Finn befriending Jacen, Jaina and Anakin Solo at the Jedi Academy, as well as studying at the feet of Master Luke Skywalker.

With bitter tragedy, new friends, brutal conflict and characters taking their first steps on the path to great destinies, this really is Star Wars storytelling at its best.

Followed by 'Invasion: Rescues'.

5 out of 5

 

Star Wars: Invasion - Rescues

(Art by Colin Wilson)

25 ABY, book two of three.  Following on from the events of 'Invasion: Refugees', the Galfridian family has been scattered before the winds of the Yuuzhan Vong War.  Nina and Kaye are among a group of disenfranchised slaves who have turned the tables on their Vong captors and set out on a mission to help others in their position.  Meanwhile Finn's Jedi training comes to a head when he returns to his homeworld seeking his father, who has become the leader of a resistance movement against the extragalactic invaders.

Where the first book introduced the characters and set them on their individual paths, this one matures them and their plotlines.  It also goes a long way towards capturing the desparate feel of the New Jedi Order novels as, for every victory, comes a defeat and vice versa.  The character who surprised me with their development in this book was Queen Nina.  Up to this point she's been a strong but not particularly interesting woman, but here we learn some very surprising details about her past.

Overall this is another brilliant addition to the Star Wars mythos and the NJO era in particular.

Followed by 'Invasion: Revelations'.

4 out of 5

 

Star Wars: Invasion - Revelations

(Art by Colin Wilson)

The third and final book of the series, set 25 ABY.  Sadly after this book the series was cancelled.  But whilst there's not the complete resolution to the various storylines that we might have hoped for, Taylor does his best to make this a pretty stunning last installment.

Here Finn's plot thread is something of a sideline as he accompanies the strange Force-user Dray on a mission to the heart of the New Republic and the office of Chief of State Borsk Fey'lya.  There's nothing inherantly wrong with this storyline, but it just doesn't really go anywhere or add anything to the book as a whole.  It's presumably something that would've been expanded on has the series not been cancelled.

The main body of the story is very different, however.  Here Kaye and Nina decide to make a stand against the Vong, enlisting the help of other refugees, smugglers, mercenaries and even Imperials to strike back against the invaders.  There's action galore on offer but I think what I liked most about this part of the book was the way in which Taylor uses a war correspondant as his means of exposition, delivering live updates on the war from the frontlines.

This is one of my favourite Star Wars graphic novels for a long time and leaves you feeling very disappointed that we'll never get to see how the stories of these characters pan out (or learn the full details of Nina's past).

5 out of 5

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